Wilkerson on North Korea Crisis

US Should Stop the Threats & Own Up to its Role

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, says the US should resolve the North Korea nuclear crisis through negotiations and should reckon with the impact of its previous actions.

The Real News Network (April 17 2017)

AARON MATE: It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Mate. Amid rising tensions, the US and North Korea are both making threats. In a visit to South Korea, Vice President Mike Pence said while the US prefers peaceful means, all options are on the table.

MIKE PENCE: And I’m here to express the resolve of the people of the United States, and the President of the United States, to achieve that objective through peaceable means, through negotiations, but all options are on the table.

AARON MATE: A top North Korean official says the country’s army is on maximum alert, and is prepared, to quote, “launch merciless military strikes against the US aggressors”, unquote. It’s the latest salvo in a growing nuclear standoff. A recent North Korean missile test led the Trump administration to move a US navy force into the Korean Peninsula. Last week, North Korea warned of potential nuclear war, and this weekend, North Korea staged an annual military parade that showed off new weaponry. It followed that with another missile test that quickly failed. So, where is this headed? Well, joining us is Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, retired US army soldier, and former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State, Colin Powell. He’s an adjunct professor at the College of William and Mary, where he instructs on US national security.
Colonel Wilkerson, welcome.

LARRY WILKERSON: Thanks for having me.

AARON MATE: Vice President Pence saying today that the era of strategic patience is over. That, along with a series of bellicose messages from President Trump’s Twitter account, where do you see this going?

LARRY WILKERSON: I really am alarmed when people make statements like that without the diplomatic finesse to deliver them properly. Strategic patience, as it were, has produced no war on the peninsula since 1953. That’s a pretty darn good record. Although I don’t know what he means by, “the period of strategic patience is over”. I’m prepared, I think most Americans, and I know most Republic of Korea citizens – that is, South Korea – are prepared to be patient forever, if there’s no war in that forever.

AARON MATE: I believe it was the National Security Advisor, McMaster, who said this weekend that the status quo is not tenable. You have the situation where North Korea is armed with nuclear weapons and threatening its neighborhoods, so a new course is needed, also pointing to previous agreements with the regime not working out. How do you respond to that?

LARRY WILKERSON: Well, I respond to that by saying the previous agreements with the regime, the agreed framework for example, that Bill Clinton’s administration engineered, didn’t work out as much, because the United States didn’t live up to its obligations under those agreements. As for any other reason, so we can throw rocks at both sides with regard to agreements. What I’m concerned with is, if people run around this town, Washington, and they talk about people not being deterred by the fact that we have more nuclear weapons than everyone else in the world combined, except for Russia. If Kim Jong-un or any Kim dynasty leader, in fact any leader in Pyongyang with his hand on their button, were to fire a missile at Tokyo, Japan, or South Korea, or Guam, or Okinawa, or any place they might be able to currently hit. Or ultimately if they were to fire one in California, they would cease to exist. No US president would restrain himself, or herself, from responding. Pyongyang would cease to exist, and I dare say, the entire Kim dynasty. Whose objective, sole objective, is preserving themselves in power, would disappear in the flash of a mushroom cloud. So, I mean, this is ridiculous to think that they’re not deterred.

AARON MATE: You know, you mentioned the history of US-North Korean agreements, the recent history, and you talked about throwing rocks on both sides. Well, you have an inside take on this because you worked for the Bush administration, which abandoned the Clinton agreements, the key one being North Korea agreeing to freeze plutonium production. There also was some sort of indirect deal about buying up North Korean missiles. But President Bush abandoned this policy. Can you tell us what happened there and how that helped lead to today?

LARRY WILKERSON: Well, our intelligence community, really I don’t think can say whether the chicken came first, or the egg in this case. What we do know is that the money that we had promised, that the Europeans had promised, for the light water reactors, which were supposed to replace the dangerous plutonium-producing reactor at Yongbyon, actually didn’t come across. Europeans pretty much put up their billions, but our Congress was very reluctant, and in the end didn’t put up hardly anything. And in terms of the heavy fuel oil shipments we promised, the Congress was either dilatory in shipping it, or didn’t ship it to the amounts that were agreed to, or both. So, the North Koreans, as Jim Kelly, our Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific found out October 2002 – when he visited Pyongyang and talked with Yi Jung and Kang Sak-ju – found out that they probably did hedge their bets, and had a secret program for enhancing uranium, to back up the plutonium program we had frozen. Whether they did that because we weren’t living up to our end of the deal, or they did that to hedge their bets, is still a question I think. But if either way, let’s just look at that.
We had frozen the most dangerous aspect of their program at Yongbyon, reprocessing plutonium, making a plutonium-based bomb. So, we had at least eliminated half of it, and at that point we didn’t have any nuclear weapons. Now we’ve got ten or twelve nuclear weapons, and we don’t have any agreement at all. We’re not talking. We’re not doing anything. So, the negotiations in the past, even if they only half worked, they worked a whole lot better than the non-negotiations of, say, my administration after October 2002.

AARON MATE: So, let me ask you, I mean, this is speculation, but do you think if President Bush had lived up to Clinton’s commitments, and also perhaps not put North Korea on the infamous, “Axis of Evil”, whether you think North Korea would have nuclear weapons today?

LARRY WILKERSON: I’m not sure. That’s a hard question to answer. It’s a hypothetical; I’m not sure what the situation would be. If I … let me put it this way as a military professional, if I were Kim Jong-il, or Kim Il-sung, or Kim Jong-un, I would want to hedge my bets against a power that arrayed itself in front of me as threateningly as the US does. If I look out from Pyongyang – now, I’m trying to be empathetic. I’m not condoning the Kim dynasty or anyone in North Korea. I’m simply saying I’m being empathetic – I’m looking out from Pyongyang into the Pacific. I’m looking out across the inland seas; I’m looking down at the ROK, the Republic of Korea. I see 600,000 highly trained ROK troops. I see B2s on Guam; I see Vincent aircraft carriers steaming towards the Peninsula. I see all this threat to me; I’d want a nuclear weapon, too. So, if you want the bottom line, there isn’t anybody in the world today, after seeing us invade Iraq, after seeing us bomb Syria, after seeing us do – we’re at war with seven or eight countries right now in terms of drones. We’re flying across their borders and killing people inside their territory. So, if I were anyone in the world who thought my regime was in trouble, I’d think the trouble came from the United States, and I’d want a nuclear weapon too. That’s not at all to say I condone the proliferation of nuclear weapons. I’m simply stating the obvious. I’m stating the rational obvious.

AARON MATE: On the subject of US policy influencing North Korea’s thinking, there was a piece in The New York Times yesterday analyzing the current crisis. And they made an interesting point near the end, where they pointed to the fact that Libya, under Colonel Gaddafi, they made an agreement with the US about giving up on their nascent nuclear program, in return for some financial relief. Now, the financial relief never came, and then of course when you had this uprising against Gaddafi years later, the US joined the side of the uprising and actually helped overthrow Gaddafi. And the Times says that this experience has heavily influenced the leaders in North Korea. That actually, Libya is often talked about in North Korean strategic writing and discussion.

LARRY WILKERSON: Absolutely. Look at Iraq and the invasion in 2003. Many have maintained, and I think with some reason, that it was an illegal war. Look at Libya. Look at the strike on Syria recently. If I were someone out there looking around and considering my threats, and I thought a nuclear weapon would help me, at least in some ways, to keep that threat from coming my way and overthrowing my regime, I’d surely want to build one. I was there when we did what you just described briefly with Gaddafi. Tony Blair was wined and dined, and Condi Rice, and everyone was all hunky-dory loving Muammar Gaddafi at that particular point. And then suddenly we’d move a few years down the road, and bang, everybody’s getting rid of him. And we haven’t seen a good analysis of that conflict, yet. I’ve had students write papers on it, good papers. And this is not a moment of US brilliance, to be sure. Look at what we’ve got now. We’ve got, for example one of the biggest arms bazaars in Northern Africa – if not the world – to include shoulder-fired missiles. Gaddafi’s armed caches going out to the rest of the world, including ISIS, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Al-Qaeda, and other groups like that. So, Libya is not a success story. Not at all a success story. But it is something that teaches other leaders in the world to beware of the United States.

AARON MATE: Since we’re talking history, I want to go back even further to the wider historical context for US-North Korea tensions. We often don’t hear about the impact of decades of US-North Korean tensions. And specifically the Korean War going back to the 1950s, and I want to read you a quote from Air Force General Curtis LeMay, who headed the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War. He said, “Over a period of three years or so, we killed off – what – twenty percent of the population”. And Dean Rusk, who was later Secretary of State, said the US bombed, quote, “… everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another”. Talk to us about this context that we often don’t talk about.

LARRY WILKERSON: Well, this was a really bloody war, there’s no question about it. The North invaded the South, the South responded by retreating all the way to Pusan. The United States was ill prepared for the war, and so joined them in that retreat, and then held out at Pusan until Douglas MacArthur, of course, conducted the brilliant amphibious invasion at Incheon. And we cut off the North Koreans, and then we pursued them all the way to Bealu (?), with Douglas MacArthur, saying, no Chinese will enter the war, telling Harry Truman that on Wake Island, when they met. And then the Chinese intervened with some 300,000, quote, “volunteers”, unquote, and then the casualties really mounted, as we fought three years of bloody stalemate. Finally coming to an end at approximately the same point we started. But we had preserved South Korea. And that was a great deal. It turns out that South Korea is one of the few, if not the only, major country in the world that has gone from being a debtor nation, to a creditor nation, in one generation. And is a flourishing democracy now. So, in the long run, that turned out all right for South Korea. But for the other millions of Koreans north of the DMZ, it put them in the so-called, Hermit Kingdom. And it gave them, as you said, these memories of the times when the Chinese intervened, the United States was on their territory. Even had Douglas MacArthur recommending that nuclear waste be sowed all across North Korea, in order to make it unpalatable, and to keep the Chinese out, and so forth. Yeah, the history is a long, bloody history. But the history since that 1953 truce agreement, peace agreement that was not, but truce, ceasefire, and we still have the war condition going on. Look at the DMZ. It spans the country right now at the point where we stopped. We have a lot of bitter feelings on both sides, I think. Most people probably couldn’t tell you what those feelings were really about today, on either side. In the North, the people were kept so poor, and so ill fed and in such conditions of poverty that the regime holds on by essentially keeping them worshipful of Kim, and not eating very much. In the South, you have this robust, dynamic, successful economy. I think if you were to leave the situation alone, that is to say a great power like the United States, or for that matter, Japan or China, were not making it different every day by their very shadow of their power, you would probably already have North and South having worked out reconciliation. You’d have unification, and the capital would be Seoul, not Pyongyang. And you’d have a whole bunch of Koreans in the North joining a whole bunch of Koreans in the South, and becoming a very dynamic economy over time, a generation, let’s say. And maybe even giving China some competition, which is one reason why I think China likes that buffer zone between it, and that very prosperous, economically vivacious South Korea.

AARON MATE: Yeah. On the issue of buffer zone, we often forget that there are 28,500 US troops in South Korea. So, that would seem to be an incentive for China to keep North Korea as its ally, even though it causes it a lot of problems.

LARRY WILKERSON: You put your finger on something there. I would suspect even, let’s just hypothetically think for a moment about a collapse scenario, which I’ve done as a strategist in the army, and we even war-planned one of the war plans off of this. Let’s just say that all of a sudden the Kim dynasty is no more, that this Kim is the last one, for example – which incidentally a lot of more conservative South Koreans believe – and say it collapses and the generals take over. Well, the first thing I would think China would do, would probably be to move some of those forces it keeps up there on the border, the Yalu, into North Korea, say fifteen or twenty kilometers, and establish a buffer zone. And then make that another DMZ, or like a DMZ between what would then become an ultimately reunified Korea, and the Chinese border. The only thing that might preclude that, and the Chinese might withdraw their troops, and not declare a buffer zone, is if once unification occurred, the United States left the peninsula entirely. You may have seen Doug Bandow’s article recently where he suggested that we ought to leave the peninsula. I’m not sure Doug is not onto something. US presence there is no longer required, really, for checking China, as we say, or for doing the kinds of things we say we have to do with proximity. We can fly B2s from Missouri, we can do most of the things we need to do from internal to the United States. So, this $70 billion a year we’re spending on over 800 bases overseas every year has got to stop sometime. And we might have a situation that is strategically more palatable, more peaceful and more stable, if the United States were not on the peninsula, than what we have now with the United States being on the peninsula. That’s something that ought to be looked at, and ought to be analyzed.

AARON MATE: I want to play the comments of former Defense Secretary William Perry about North Korea. This is what he said.

WILLIAM PERRY: I think this is a time for us [do] to some creative diplomacy. Paradoxically, the dangerous situation we’re in right now has created the environment in which now this diplomacy actually might be successful.

AARON MATE: Colonel Wilkerson, what do you make of what he said, and what do you make of the prospects for talks? I mean, people often look to the North Korean regime and say; this is the worst government in the world. So, how could we talk to them?

LARRY WILKERSON: Well, Bill Perry’s pretty smart. Bill Perry and I were the two characters – huh, if you will – on the US side in the last Pyonghwaa simulation we ran in Seoul. Bill played the US Minister of Defense, and we had ROK Minister of Defense on the other side, and we did sort of a war game together. He knows the peninsula well. He was there when we came very, very close to war in 1994. And I think he’s right. This is not an insane regime. It’s a very rational regime. It wants to preserve its own power. So, the very idea that deterrents wouldn’t work against them is simply nonsense. But it’s also a high stakes poker regime. They do their brinksmanship, they play their high stakes poker games, they drop artillery rounds on South Korea, they sink a South Korean boat, or some other brinksmanship-like move. And they do it because they want us to come back to the talks. Well, I say we need to be the kind of power that recognizes it could eliminate them from the face of the earth at any moment that it wanted to, but be magnanimous and deal with this, deal with the situation as you have it. Go back to talks. I don’t care if we talk until we’re blue in the face, as long as strategic patience continues to work, and prevent a war. These people who walk around and pontificate about, oh there’ll be a war, oh, there’ll be a war, oh, they’ll shoot Japan, oh, they’ll shoot South Korea, oh, they’ll shoot Guam, oh, they’ll shoot California. That’s just what those people’s place in life is about: starting wars. I like strategic patience. I like no war. I like stable situations where no one’s dying, and no one’s dropping bombs on someone else, least of all my own country.
So, I don’t see any problem with talking again, and I hope – I hope – I don’t have a lot of hope with this administration of amateurs, but I do hope that what Trump is seeking is high ground in the eventual talks that he will conduct. I hope that he revivifies the five-party talks. I hope that we talk to the North Koreans. My goodness, we couldn’t even talk directly to the North Koreans during the five-party talks with George W Bush, because Dick Cheney wouldn’t allow it. So, if we had meaningful talks, and we offered something meaningful to the North Koreans in those talks, we would not get a non-nuclear North Korea. We’re beyond that. They’re never going to give up their nuclear weapons. But we might get a situation where the North and the South were talking to each other more regularly, dealing with each other more regularly. We back out of this situation, sort of, and you wind up with an agreement within a generation or two – talk about strategic patience – that brought the peninsula together, and brought it together, as I said, with a capital Seoul and not Pyongyang. Which I think is inevitable.

AARON MATE: In this scary situation, we’ll leave it there with that hope. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, thanks as always for joining us.

LARRY WILKERSON: Thanks for having me.

AARON MATE: And thank you for joining us on The Real News.



Categories: Uncategorized

Oliver Stone Rages …

… Against the Deep State’s Wonderful Job of Throwing America into Chaos

by Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge (April 19 2017)

In March of last year {1}, Academy Award-winning director Oliver Stone warned the world:



we’re going to war – either hybrid in nature … or a hot war (which will destroy our country). Our citizens should know this, but they don’t because our media is dumbed down in its Pravda-like support for our “respectable”, highly aggressive government.



And strongly rejected the establishment’s “the Russians are coming” narrative shortly after the election {2} and correctly forecast that it wouldn’t be long before the deep state pushed Trump into an anti-Kremlin position …

As much as we may disagree with Donald Trump (and I do) he’s right now target number one of the mainstream media propaganda – until, that is, he changes to the anti-Kremlin track over, God knows, some kind of petty dispute cooked up by CIA, and in his hot-headed way starts fighting with the Russians …

I never thought I’d find myself at this point in time praying for the level-headedness of a Donald Trump.

Stone was correct and in a Facebook post tonight {3} expresses his disappointment at Trump and disgust for The Deep State (and America’s wilful ignorance).

So It Goes

I confess I really had hopes for some conscience from Trump about America’s wars, but I was wrong – fooled again! – as I had been by the early Reagan, and less so by George W Bush. Reagan found his mantra with the “evil empire” rhetoric against Russia, which almost kicked off a nuclear war in 1983 – and Bush found his “us against the world” crusade at 9/11, in which of course we’re still mired.

It seems that Trump really has no “there” there, far less a conscience, as he’s taken off the handcuffs on our war machine and turned it over to his glorified Generals – and he’s being praised for it by our “liberal” media who continue to play at war so recklessly. What a tortured bind we’re in. There are intelligent people in Washington and New York, but they’ve lost their minds as they’ve been stampeded into a Syrian-Russian groupthink, a consensus without asking – “Who benefits from this latest gas attack?” Certainly neither Assad nor Putin. The only benefits go to the terrorists who initiated the action to stave off their military defeat.

It was a desperate gamble, but it worked because the Western media immediately got behind it with crude propagandizing about murdered babies, et cetera. No real investigation or time for a UN chemical unit to establish what happened, much less find a motive. Why would Assad do something so stupid when he’s clearly winning the civil war?

No, I believe America has decided somewhere, in the crises of the Trump administration, that we will get into this war at any cost, under any circumstances – to, once again, change the secular regime in Syria, which has been, from the Bush era on, one of the top goals – next to Iran – of the neoconservatives. At the very least, we will cut out a chunk of northeastern Syria and call it a State.

Abetted by the Clintonites, they’ve done a wonderful job throwing America into chaos with probes into Russia’s alleged hacking of our election and Trump being their proxy candidate (now clearly disproved by his bombing attack) – and sadly, worst of all in some ways, admitting no memory of the same false flag incident in 2013, for which again Assad was blamed (see Seymour Hersh’s fascinating deconstruction of this US propaganda, “Whose sarin?”, London Review of Books (December 19 2013). No memory, no history, no rules – or rather “American rules”.

No, this isn’t an accident or a one-off affair. This is the State deliberately misinforming the public through its corporate media and leads us to believe, as Mike Whitney points out in his brilliant analyses, “Will Washington Risk World War Three” and “Syria: Where the Rubber Meets the Road”, that something far more sinister waits in the background.

Mike Whitney, Robert Parry, and former intelligence officer Phil Giraldi all comment at the links below. It’s well worth thirty minutes of your time to read. Lastly, below is a link to Bruce Cumings’s “Nation” analysis of North Korea, as he again reminds us of the purposes of studying history. {4}, {5}, {6}, {7}, {8}, {9}, {10}, {11}, {12}

Can we wake up before it’s too late? I for one feel like the John Wayne veteran (of war) character in “Fort Apache”, riding with the arrogant Custer-like General (Henry Fonda) to his doom. My country, my country, my heart aches for thee.

* * * * *


{1} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-03-31/were-going-war-%E2%80%93-oliver-stone-fears-dangerous-extremism-neocon-hillary-clinton

{2} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-29/oliver-stone-slams-establishments-russians-are-coming-narrative

{3} https://www.facebook.com/TheOliverStone/posts/1500289493328678

{4} http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/23/will-washington-risk-ww3-to-block-an-emerging-eu-russia-superstate/

{5} http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/12/syria-where-the-rubber-meets-the-road/

{6} http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46847.htm

{7} https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/14/did-al-qaeda-fool-the-white-house-again/

{8} https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/10/neocons-have-trump-on-his-knees/

{9} https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/07/trumps-wag-the-dog-moment/

{10} https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/04/mainstream-media-as-arbiters-of-truth/

{11} http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/17/blood-in-the-water-the-trump-revolution-ends-in-a-whimper/

{12} https://www.thenation.com/article/this-is-whats-really-behind-north-koreas-nuclear-provocations/


Categories: Uncategorized

How Western Civilization Could Collapse

by Rachel Nuwer via BBC.com

http://www.bbc.com (April 19 2017)

Zero Hedge (April 19 2017)

The political economist Benjamin Friedman once compared {1} modern Western society to a stable bicycle whose wheels are kept spinning by economic growth. Should that forward-propelling motion slow or cease, the pillars that define our society – democracy, individual liberties, social tolerance and more – would begin to teeter. Our world would become an increasingly ugly place, one defined by a scramble over limited resources and a rejection of anyone outside of our immediate group. Should we find no way to get the wheels back in motion, we’d eventually face total societal collapse.

Such collapses have occurred many times in human history, and no civilisation, no matter how seemingly great, is immune to the vulnerabilities that may lead a society to its end. Regardless of how well things are going in the present moment, the situation can always change. Putting aside species-ending events like an asteroid strike, nuclear winter or deadly pandemic, history tells us that it’s usually a plethora of factors that contribute to collapse. What are they, and which, if any, have already begun to surface? It should come as no surprise that humanity is currently on an unsustainable and uncertain path – but just how close are we to reaching the point of no return?

A South African police van is set on fire following protests about inequality in 2016

While it’s impossible to predict the future with certainty, mathematics, science and history can provide hints about the prospects of Western societies for long-term continuation.

Safa Motesharrei, a systems scientist at the University of Maryland, uses computer models to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that can lead to local or global sustainability or collapse. According to findings {2} that Motesharrei and his colleagues published in 2014, there are two factors that matter: ecological strain and economic stratification. The ecological category is the more widely understood and recognised path to potential doom, especially in terms of depletion of natural resources such as groundwater, soil, fisheries and forests – all of which could be worsened by climate change.

That economic stratification may lead to collapse on its own, on the other hand, came as more of a surprise to Motesharrei and his colleagues. Under this scenario, elites push society toward instability and eventual collapse by hoarding huge quantities of wealth and resources, and leaving little or none for commoners who vastly outnumber them yet support them with labour. Eventually, the working population crashes because the portion of wealth allocated to them is not enough, followed by collapse of the elites due to the absence of labour. The inequalities we see today both within and between countries already point to such disparities. For example, the top ten percent of global income earners are responsible for almost as much total greenhouse gas emissions as the bottom ninety percent combined. Similarly, about half the world’s population lives on less than $3 per day.

For both scenarios, the models define a carrying capacity – a total population level that a given environment’s resources can sustain over the long term. If the carrying capacity is overshot by too much, collapse becomes inevitable. That fate is avoidable, however. “If we make rational choices to reduce factors such as inequality, explosive population growth, the rate at which we deplete natural resources and the rate of pollution – all perfectly doable things – then we can avoid collapse and stabilise onto a sustainable trajectory”, Motesharrei said. “But we cannot wait forever to make those decisions”.

One of the most important lessons from Rome’s fall is that complexity has a cost

Unfortunately, some experts believe such tough decisions exceed our political and psychological capabilities. “The world will not rise to the occasion of solving the climate problem during this century, simply because it is more expensive in the short term to solve the problem than it is to just keep acting as usual”, says Jorgen Randers, a professor emeritus of climate strategy at the BI Norwegian Business School, and author of 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years {3}. “The climate problem will get worse and worse and worse because we won’t be able to live up to what we’ve promised to do in the Paris Agreement and elsewhere”.

While we are all in this together, the world’s poorest will feel the effects of collapse first. Indeed, some nations are already serving as canaries in the coal mine for the issues that may eventually pull apart more affluent ones. Syria {4}, for example, enjoyed exceptionally high fertility rates for a time, which fueled rapid population growth. A severe drought in the late 2000s, likely made worse by human-induced climate change, combined with groundwater shortages to cripple agricultural production. That crisis left large numbers of people – especially young men – unemployed, discontent and desperate. Many flooded into urban centres, overwhelming limited resources and services there. Pre-existing ethnic tensions increased, creating fertile grounds for violence and conflict. On top of that, poor governance – including neoliberal policies that eliminated water subsidies in the middle of the drought – tipped the country into civil war in 2011 and sent it careening toward collapse.

In Syria’s case – as with so many other societal collapses throughout history – it was not one but a plethora of factors that contributed, says Thomas Homer-Dixon, chair of global systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada, and author of The Upside of Down {5}. Homer-Dixon calls these combined forces tectonic stresses for the way in which they quietly build up and then abruptly erupt, overloading any stabilising mechanisms that otherwise keep a society in check.

The Syrian case aside, another sign that we’re entering into a danger zone, Homer-Dixon says, is the increasing occurrence of what experts call nonlinearities, or sudden, unexpected changes in the world’s order, such as the 2008 economic crisis, the rise of ISIS, Brexit, or Donald Trump’s election.

Some civilisations simply fade out of existence – becoming the stuff of history not with a bang but a whimper

The past can also provide hints for how the future might play out. Take, for example, the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. By the end of the 100 BC the Romans had spread across the Mediterranean, to the places most easily accessed by sea. They should have stopped there, but things were going well and they felt empowered to expand to new frontiers by land. While transportation by sea was economical, however, transportation across land was slow and expensive. All the while, they were overextending themselves and running up costs. The Empire managed to remain stable in the ensuing centuries, but repercussions for spreading themselves too thin caught up with them in the third century, which was plagued by civil war and invasions. The Empire tried to maintain its core lands, even as the army ate up its budget and inflation climbed ever higher as the government debased its silver currency to try to cover its mounting expenses. While some scholars cite the beginning of collapse as the year 410, when the invading Visigoths sacked the capital, that dramatic event was made possible by a downward spiral spanning more than a century.

According to Joseph Tainter, a professor of environment and society at Utah State University and author of The Collapse of Complex Societies {6}, one of the most important lessons from Rome’s fall is that complexity {7} has a cost. As stated in the laws of thermodynamics, it takes energy to maintain any system in a complex, ordered state – and human society is no exception. By the third century, Rome was increasingly adding new things – an army double the size, a cavalry, subdivided provinces that each needed their own bureaucracies, courts and defences – just to maintain its status quo and keep from sliding backwards. Eventually, it could no longer afford to prop up those heightened complexities. It was fiscal weakness, not war, that did the Empire in.

So far, modern Western societies have largely been able to postpone similar precipitators of collapse through fossil fuels and industrial technologies – think hydraulic fracturing coming along in 2008, just in time to offset soaring oil prices. Tainter suspects this will not always be the case, however. “Imagine the costs if we have to build a seawall around Manhattan, just to protect against storms and rising tides”, he says. Eventually, investment in complexity as a problem-solving strategy reaches a point of diminishing returns, leading to fiscal weakness and vulnerability to collapse. That is, he says “unless we find a way to pay for the complexity, as our ancestors did when they increasingly ran societies on fossil fuels”.

A protest group in Argentina demonstrates against United States interference in the crises in Syria and Venezuela

Also paralleling Rome, Homer-Dixon predicts that Western societies’ collapse will be preceded by a retraction of people and resources back to their core homelands. As poorer nations continue to disintegrate amid conflicts and natural disasters, enormous waves of migrants will stream out of failing regions, seeking refuge in more stable states. Western societies will respond with restrictions and even bans on immigration; multi-billion dollar walls and border-patrolling drones and troops; heightened security on who and what gets in; and more authoritarian, populist styles of governing. “It’s almost an immunological attempt by countries to sustain a periphery and push pressure back”, Homer-Dixon says.

Meanwhile, a widening gap between rich and poor within those already vulnerable Western nations will push society toward further instability from the inside. “By 2050, the US and UK will have evolved into two-class societies where a small elite lives a good life and there is declining well-being for the majority”, Randers says. “What will collapse is equity”.

Whether in the US, UK or elsewhere, the more dissatisfied and afraid people become, Homer-Dixon says, the more of a tendency they have to cling to their in-group identity – whether religious, racial or national. Denial, including of the emerging prospect of societal collapse itself, will be widespread, as will rejection of evidence-based fact. If people admit that problems exist at all, they will assign blame for those problems to everyone outside of their in-group, building up resentment. “You’re setting up the psychological and social prerequisites for mass violence”, Homer-Dixon says. When localised violence finally does break out, or another country or group decides to invade, collapse will be difficult to avoid.

Europe, with its close proximity to Africa, its land bridge to the Middle East and its neighbourly status with more politically volatile nations to the East, will feel these pressures first. The US will likely hold out longer, surrounded as it is by ocean buffers.

A severe drought in Syria left many people – especially young men – unemployed, discontent and desperate, which may have been a factor that led to civil war

On the other hand, Western societies may not meet with a violent, dramatic end. In some cases, civilisations simply fade out of existence – becoming the stuff of history not with a bang but a whimper. The British Empire has been on this path since 1918, Randers says, and other Western nations might go this route as well. As time passes, they will become increasingly inconsequential and, in response to the problems driving their slow fade-out, will also starkly depart from the values they hold dear today. “Western nations are not going to collapse, but the smooth operation and friendly nature of Western society will disappear, because inequity is going to explode”, Randers argues. “Democratic, liberal society will fail, while stronger governments like China will be the winners”.

Some of these forecasts and early warning signs should sound familiar, precisely because they are already underway. While Homer-Dixon is not surprised at the world’s recent turn of events – he predicted some of them in his 2006 book – he didn’t expect these developments to occur before the mid-2020s.

Western civilisation is not a lost cause, however. Using reason and science to guide decisions, paired with extraordinary leadership and exceptional goodwill, human society can progress to higher and higher levels of well-being and development, Homer-Dixon says. Even as we weather the coming stresses of climate change, population growth and dropping energy returns, we can maintain our societies and better them. But that requires resisting the very natural urge, when confronted with such overwhelming pressures, to become less cooperative, less generous and less open to reason. “The question is, how can we manage to preserve some kind of humane world as we make our way through these changes?” Homer-Dixon says.


{1} http://harvardmagazine.com/2006/01/growth-is-good.html

{2} http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800914000615

{3} https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008674K64/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

{4} http://www.pnas.org/content/112/11/3241

{5} https://www.amazon.com/Upside-Down-Catastrophe-Creativity-Civilization/dp/1597260657

{6} https://www.amazon.com/Collapse-Complex-Societies-Studies-Archaeology/dp/052138673X

{7} http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/sres.1057/abstract



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What Would Korean War Two Look Like?

by Eric Margolis

https://ericmargolis.com (April 15 2017)


If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.



So thundered President Donald Trump last week. Unfortunately, neither China nor North Korea appeared intimidated by this presidential bombast or Trump’s Tweets.

What would “we will” actually entail? This clear threat makes us think seriously about what a second Korean War would be like. Memory of the bloody, indecisive first Korean War, 1950~1953, which killed close to three million people, has faded. Few Americans have any idea how ferocious a conventional second Korean War could be. They are used to seeing Uncle Sam beat up small, nearly defenseless nations like Iraq, Libya or Syria that dare defy the Pax Americana.

The US could literally blow North Korea off the map using tactical nuclear weapons based in Japan, South Korea and at sea with the Seventh Fleet. Or delivered by B-52 and B-1 bombers and cruise missiles. But this would cause clouds of lethal radiation and radioactive dust to blanket Japan, South Korea and heavily industrialized northeast China, including the capital, Beijing.

China would be expected to threaten retaliation against the United States, Japan and South Korea to deter a nuclear war in next door Korea. At the same time, if heavily attacked, a fight-to-the-end North Korea may fire off a number of nuclear-armed medium-range missiles at Tokyo, Osaka, Okinawa and South Korea. These missiles are hidden in caves in the mountains on wheeled transporters and hard to identify and knock out.

This is a huge risk. Such a nuclear exchange would expose about a third of the world’s economy to nuclear contamination, not to mention spreading nuclear winter around the globe. A conventional US attack on North Korea would be far more difficult. The North is a small nation of only 24.8 million. Its air and sea forces are obsolete and ineffective. They would be vaporized on the first day of a war. But North Korea’s million-man army has been training and digging in for decades to resist a US invasion. Pyongyang’s 88,000-man Special Forces are poised for suicide attacks on South Korea’s political and military command and control and to cripple key US and South Korean air bases, notably Osan and Kunsan.

North Korea may use chemical weapons such as VX and Sarin to knock out the US/South Korean and Japanese airbases, military depots, ports and communications hubs. Missile attacks would be launched against US bases in Guam and Okinawa.

Short of using nuclear weapons, the US would be faced with mounting a major invasion of mountainous North Korea, something for which it is today unprepared. It took the US six months to assemble a land force in Saudi Arabia just to attack feeble Iraq. Taking on the tough North Korean army and militia in their mountain redoubts will prove a daunting challenge. US analysts have in the past estimated a US invasion of North Korea would cost some 250,000 American casualties and at least $10 billion, though I believe such a war would cost four times that much today. The Army, Air Force and Marines would have to mobilize reserves to wage a war in Korea. Already overstretched US forces would have to be withdrawn from Europe and the Mideast. Military conscription might have to be re-introduced.

US war planners believe that an attempt to assassinate or isolate North Korean leader Kim Jung-un – known in the military as “decapitation” – would cause the North Korean armed forces to scatter and give up. I don’t think so.

My visits to South and North Korea have shown me that soldiers of both nations are amazingly tough, patriotic and ready to fight. I’ve also been under the Demilitarized Zone (“DMZ”) in some of the warren of secret tunnels built by North Korea under South Korean fortifications. Hundreds of North Korean long-range 170 mm guns and rocket batteries are buried into the hills facing the DMZ, all within range of the northern half of South Korea’s capital, Seoul. North Korea is unlikely to be a pushover in a war. Even after US/South Korean forces occupy Pyongyang, the North has prepared for a long guerilla war in the mountains that could last for decades. They have been practicing for thirty years. Chaos in North Korea will invite Chinese military intervention, but not necessarily to the advantage of the US and its allies.

Is Commander-in-Chief Trump, who somehow managed to avoid military service during the Vietnam War, really ready to launch a big war in Asia? Most Americans still can’t locate Korea on a map. Will Congress tax every American taxpayer $20,000 to pay for a new Korean war? Will Russia sit by quietly while the US blows apart North Korea? Does anyone in the White House know that North Korea borders on Russia and is less than 200 kilometers from the key Russian port of Vladivostok?

All this craziness would be ended if the US signed a peace treaty with North Korea ending the first Korean War and opened up diplomatic and commercial relations. No need for war or missile threats. North Korea is a horrid, brutal regime. But so is Egypt, whose tin pot dictator was wined and dined by Trump last week.

But pounding the rostrum with your shoe is always much more fun than boring peace talks.

Copyright Eric S Margolis 2017


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This is What’s Really Behind …

… North Korea’s Nuclear Provocations

It’s easy to dismiss Kim Jong-un as a madman. But there’s a long history of US aggression against the North, which we forget at our peril.

by Bruce Cumings

https://www.thenation.com (March 23 2017)

Donald Trump was having dinner at Mar-a-Lago with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on February 11 when a message arrived mid-meal, courtesy of Pyongyang: North Korea had just tested a new, solid-fuel, intermediate-range ballistic missile, fired from a mobile – and therefore hard-to-detect – launcher. The president pulled out his 1990s flip-phone and discussed this event in front of the various people sitting within earshot. One of these diners, Richard DeAgazio, was suitably agog at the import of this weighty scene, posting the following comment on his Facebook page:



HOLY MOLY!!! It was fascinating to watch the flurry of activity at dinner when the news came that North Korea had launched a missile in the direction of Japan.



Actually, this missile was aimed directly at Mar-a-Lago, figuratively speaking. It was a pointed nod to history that no American media outlet grasped: “Prime Minister Shinzo”, as Trump called him, is the grandson of Nobusuke Kishi, a former Japanese prime minister whom Abe reveres. Nobusuke was deemed a “Class A” war criminal by the US occupation authorities after World War Two, and he ran munitions manufacturing in Manchuria in the 1930s, when General Hideki Tojo was provost marshal there. Kim Il-sung, whom grandson Kim Jong-un likewise reveres, was fighting the Japanese at the same time and in the same place.

The North wouldn’t have nukes if we’d kept our word in the past.

As I wrote for this magazine in January 2016, the North Koreans must be astonished to discover that US leaders never seem to grasp the import of their history-related provocations. Even more infuriating is Washington’s implacable refusal ever to investigate our 72-year history of conflict with the North; all of our media appear to live in an eternal present, with each new crisis treated as sui generis. Visiting Seoul in March, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asserted that North Korea has a history of violating one agreement after another; in fact, President Bill Clinton got it to freeze its plutonium production for eight years (1994~2002) and, in October 2000, had indirectly worked out a deal to buy all of its medium- and long-range missiles. Clinton also signed an agreement with General Jo Myong-rok stating that henceforth, neither country would bear “hostile intent” toward the other.

The Bush administration promptly ignored both agreements and set out to destroy the 1994 freeze. Bush’s invasion of Iraq is rightly seen as a world-historical catastrophe, but next in line would be placing North Korea in his “axis of evil” and, in September 2002, announcing his “preemptive” doctrine directed at Iraq and North Korea, among others. The simple fact is that Pyongyang would have no nuclear weapons if Clinton’s agreements had been sustained.

Now comes Donald Trump, blasting into a Beltway milieu where, in recent months, a bipartisan consensus has emerged based on the false assumption that all previous attempts to rein in the North’s nuclear program have failed, so it may be time to use force – to destroy its missiles or topple the regime. Last September, the centrist Council on Foreign Relations issued a report stating that “more assertive military and political actions” should be considered, “including those that directly threaten the existence of the [North Korean] regime”. Tillerson warned of preemptive action on his recent East Asia trip, and a former Obama-administration official, Antony Blinken, wrote in The New York Times that a “priority” for the Trump administration should be working with China and South Korea to “secure the North’s nuclear arsenal” in the event of “regime change”. But North Korea reportedly has some 15,000 underground facilities of a national-security nature. It is insane to imagine the Marines traipsing around the country in such a “search and secure” operation, and yet the Bush and Obama administrations had plans to do just that. Obama also ran a highly secret cyber-war against the North for years, seeking to infect and disrupt its missile program. If North Korea did that to us, it might well be considered an act of war.

On November 8 2016, nearly 66 million voters for Hillary Clinton received a lesson in Hegel’s “cunning of history”. A bigger lesson awaits Donald Trump, should he attack North Korea. It has the fourth-largest army in the world, as many as 200,000 highly trained special forces, 10,000 artillery pieces in the mountains north of Seoul, mobile missiles that can hit all American military bases in the region (there are hundreds), and nuclear weapons more than twice as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb (according to a new estimate in a highly detailed New York Times study by David Sanger and William Broad).

Last October, I was at a forum in Seoul with Strobe Talbott, a former deputy secretary of state for Bill Clinton. Like everyone else, Talbott averred that North Korea might well be the top security problem for the next president. In my remarks, I mentioned Robert McNamara’s explanation, in Errol Morris’s excellent documentary The Fog of War (2003), for our defeat in Vietnam: We never put ourselves in the shoes of the enemy and attempted to see the world as they did. Talbott then blurted, “It’s a grotesque regime!” There you have it: It’s our number-one problem, but so grotesque that there’s no point trying to understand Pyongyang’s point of view (or even that it might have some valid concerns). North Korea is the only country in the world to have been systematically blackmailed by US nuclear weapons going back to the 1950s, when hundreds of nukes were installed in South Korea. I have written much about this in these pages and in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Why on earth would Pyongyang not seek a nuclear deterrent? But this crucial background doesn’t enter mainstream American discourse. History doesn’t matter, until it does – when it rears up and smacks you in the face.


Categories: Uncategorized

What a War with North Korea …

… Would Probably Look Like

by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com

Zero Hedge (April 19 2017)

Back in 2013 during the last major flare up between the US and North Korea I wrote an extensive analysis on the North Korean wild card and how it could be used by globalists as a catalyst for international economic instability titled ‘Will Globalists Use North Korea To Trigger Catastrophe?’ {1} As I have warned consistently over the years, like Syria, North Korea is a longstanding chaos box; a big red button that the elites can press any time they wish to instigate a chain of greater geopolitical tensions. The question has always been, will they actually use it?

Well, it appears that under the Trump administration the establishment might go for broke. I have not seen US war rhetoric so intense since the second invasion of Iraq, and all over missile tests which have been standard fare for North Korea for many years. With whispers by Trump aides {2} of a possible 50,000 boots on the ground in Syria, and open discussion of preemptive strikes in North Korea {3}, this time kinetic conflict is highly likely.

Yes, we have seen such military pressures before, but this time feels different. Why is an aimless quagmire war with massive potential global financial repercussions more likely under Trump? Because Trump ran under a nationalist conservative banner, and he will forever be labeled a nationalist conservative even if his behavior appears to be more globalist in nature. Rhetoric is often more psychologically powerful in the minds of the masses than action. Therefore, EVERYTHING Trump does from now on will also be labeled a product of the “nationalist conservative” ideology; including all of his screw-ups. And, with Trump in office the establishment is perfectly happy to pursue actions once considered taboo, because demonizing conservatives and liberty proponents is one of their primary objectives.

When the real insanity starts, liberty movement activists will gnash their teeth and scream at the top of their lungs that Trump is “not acting like a conservative”, so how can conservative thinking be blamed by extension? But these people just don’t grasp the thought processes of the human mind. No matter how much we try to separate ourselves from the Trump-train if (or when) he goes full-bore globalist, our efforts will be futile. The mainstream media has spent considerable time and effort making sure that all of us are lumped in with the so-called “alt-right”. Remember, I tried to warn the movement {4} about this long before Trump won the election.

Currently, there are questions as to whether or not a naval task force is en route to North Korea. I would not trust the latest reports that all units are headed to Australia when Vice President Mike Pence is in Japan yesterday saying “the sword stands ready” {5}. Could this be more posturing or a precursor to a strike scenario? I am reminded of the USS Maddox which was sent to patrol the waters off of Vietnam, the same destroyer that reported an attack by North Vietnamese torpedo boats which was used as justification for the initiation of the Vietnam War. As it turned out, no such attack actually occurred.

The presence of a US fleet off North Korea could only be intended to instigate further aggression, not defuse the situation.

So, if war with North Korea is inevitable given the circumstances, what would such a war look like? Here are some elements I think are most important; elements that make the war almost unwinnable, if winning is even the purpose …

North Korean Air Defense

The North Koreans spent the better part of the last war with the US being heavily battered by air bombardments. They have had plenty of time since then to consider this problem and prepare. Even the most gung-ho American military minds are forced to admit that using only air based attacks in North Korea is not practical. And where we have been spoiled by steady video streams of laser guided hell dropped on Iraqi and Afghani targets in the past, don’t expect things to go so easily in North Korea.

While North Korea is still rife with economic problems (like every other communist and socialist nation), they still have an industrial base and produce many of their own arms. This includes and extensive missile net backed by a maze of radar systems. Their air force is by all accounts obsolete, but as I have mentioned in the past, advanced missile defense is the wave of the future. It’s cheaper and can render expensive enemy air force and naval units impotent.

North Korea uses an indigenous built surface-to-air missile (“SAM”) system called the KN-06 which is as capable as some Russian SAM systems. They also field huge numbers of man-portable air defense (“MANPAD”) units {6} against planes and helicopters attempting to dodge radar defenses at low altitudes. This is layered on top of a vast array of anti-aircraft artillery. And, most of this anti-air apparatus is either mobile or based underground.

What this means is, a ground invasion is the ONLY way to attack North Korea effectively and make room for air units to strike interior targets.

Underground Facilities

The Pentagon estimates at least 6,000 to 8,000 underground military facilities in North Korea {7}. New bases are being discovered all the time. While “bunker buster” bombs can possibly damage these facilities, it is unlikely that they would be completely destroyed or rendered ineffective. There is also an estimated 84 large tunnels through mountains on the southern border which would allow an immediate invasion by North Korean ground forces into South Korea. Only four of these tunnels exits have been found and blocked by South Korea.

It is important to remember that underground infrastructure has always been the bane of the modern western military. These facilities will not be taken by air. They will have to be taken the hard way – with ground troops.

North Korean Infantry

In 2013 the Department of Defense reported North Korean ground forces at around 950,000. This, of course, does not count their nearly eight million infantry reserves. They also boast over 200,000 highly trained paramilitary soldiers. North Korea has no means whatsoever to project these forces overseas against the US or anyone else other than South Korea. The only way they can do damage to US forces is if we show up on their doorstep.

Since a ground invasion is the only way to proceed with what will obviously be “regime change” in North Korea, US forces will be facing an endless mire of mountain warfare worse than Afghanistan with limited air support options. If it comes down to a war of attrition rather than superior technology, victory will be impossible in North Korea.

The Nuclear Option

The consensus view among military analysts is that North Korea will never attempt to use nukes offensively because the resulting retaliation by the US would be devastating. But you often do not hear much discussion about North Korea using nukes defensively, and what that would mean for an invading army.

I agree that though the mainstream media is bombarding us constantly with images of a psychotic dictatorship, North Korea is not insane enough to use nukes against the US or its allies outright. If such an event did occur, I would immediately suspect the possibility of a false flag because there would be zero gain for North Korea. That said, in the event of a ground invasion into North Korea, the use of nuclear weapons becomes highly advantageous for Pyongyang.

Consider this, with vast numbers of US ground forces operating in the region, nuclear retaliation by the US is simply not going to happen. A pullout of most troops would have to take place. North Korea needs only one nuke strike to destroy a US fleet or hit a large civilian target in South Korea killing potential millions or hit a US troop base in South Korea killing tens of thousands of American soldiers.

Once we commit ground troops into the region, we make a nuclear attack USEFUL to North Korea, when it never would have been useful before. This is why the preemptive strike rhetoric based on a rational of stopping a “more nuclear capable” North Korea is either pure stupidity or an engineered crisis in the making.

The Chinese Question

Is China’s strange shift in support of tougher actions against North Korea legitimate? Well, if it is, then I think this would support my longtime assertion that China is NOT anti-globalist at all, but just another branch of the globalist cabal. Perhaps Trump’s refusal to label them currency manipulators is also evidence of this. That is a discussion for another time, though.

China’s sudden softening of stance against US pressures on North Korea seems to me to be the most blatant signal that an actual war is coming. If China refuses to present military or economic repercussions to act as a deterrent to invasion, then an invasion is likely to happen. This does not mean, though, that a future crisis between the US and China is not scheduled.

In fact, an invasion by America into North Korea opens numerous doors to all kinds of crisis events the establishment can exploit. For example, how many people are naive enough to expect that US air maneuvers will respect Chinese air space restrictions? I hope not many. Having American military units in a war stance so close to the Chinese border is a recipe for disaster, and I am not necessarily referring to military disaster.

War, contrary to popular belief, is not good for the economy. In fact, war is the perfect poison for economic trade and production. The US in particular is utterly dependent on the international use of the dollar as the world reserve currency. Without this status, the American economy is dead in the water. China is a central pillar in global trade and could, with the help of a few other nations, kill the dollar’s reserve status very quickly.

If you are curious as to why international financiers would be interested in undermining the US economy in such a way, I suggest you read my article The Economic End Game Explained {8}. The greater point is this – a war with North Korea would have nothing to do with North Korea. It would only be a means to a greater end. There are those people out there who claim to be “conservative” that always weasel out of the woodwork in times like these to pound the war fever drum. But if you think that forced regime change overseas is America’s job or duty you are not a conservative, you are a statist.

I also cringe at the crowd of dupes that constantly bubbles to the surface claiming this time around, the invasion will be “easy”, parroting the party line. “Done in two months!”, they say. The delusion inherent in this thinking is astounding, and comes from the old-guard Republican/Neo-Con ideology. Remember how quick and cheap they said Iraq and Afghanistan would be? At bottom, there is little or nothing to be gained by Americans in this kind of conflagration. So we should be asking ourselves, who actually would gain from it?


{1} http://www.alt-market.com/articles/1422-will-globalists-use-north-korea-to-trigger-catastrophe

{2} https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-04-13/trump-said-no-to-troops-in-syria-his-aides-aren-t-so-sure

{3} http://www.newsweek.com/north-korea-nuclear-attack-donald-trump-kim-jong-un-south-korea-seoul-china-584671

{4} http://personalliberty.com/clinton-versus-trump-co-option-liberty-movement/

{5} http://www.military.com/daily-news/2017/04/19/sword-stands-ready-against-north-korea-pence-tells-troops-japan.html

{6} http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/if-donald-trump-attacks-north-korea-beware-kims-air-defense-20207

{7} https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3345586/most-of-north-koreas-military-bases-are-underground-and-in-mountains-making-any-strike-much-harder/

{8} http://www.alt-market.com/articles/2403-the-economic-end-game-explained



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The US Pushed North Korea to Build Nukes

Yes or No?

by Mike Whitney

CounterPunch (April 19 2017)

Let’s say you know someone who wears funny blue suits and doesn’t share your views on politics. So you decide to stick this person in a cage and put him on a diet of bread and water until he agrees to change his wardrobe and adjust his thinking. And when he sits quietly on the cage-floor with his hands folded, you ignore him altogether and deal with other matters. But when he stomps his feet in anger or violently shakes the cage, you throw cold water on him or poke him in the back with a sharp stick.

How long do you think it’ll take before your prisoner changes his clothes and comes around to “exceptional” way of seeing things?

It’s never going to happen, is it, because your whole approach is wrong. People don’t respond positively to hectoring, intimidation and cruelty, in fact, they deeply resent it and fight back. And, yet, this is exactly the way Washington has treated North Korea (“DPRK”) for the last 64 years. Washington’s policy towards the DPRK is not comprised of “carrots and sticks”; it’s sticks and bigger sticks. It’s entirely based on the assumption that you can persuade people to do what you want them to do through humiliation, intimidation and brute force.

But the policy hasn’t worked, has it, because now the North has nuclear weapons, which is precisely the outcome that Washington wanted to avoid. So we don’t even have to make the case that US policy is a flop, because the North’s nuclear arsenal does that for us. Case closed!

So the question is: What do we do now?

Three things:

First, we have to understand that the current policy failed to achieve what it was supposed to achieve. It was the wrong approach and it produced an outcome that we did not want. We could argue that Washington’s belligerence and threats pushed the North to build nukes, but we’ll save that for some other time. The main thing is to acknowledge that the policy was wrong.

Second, we have to understand that situation has changed in a fundamental way. North Korea now has nuclear weapons, which means that North Korea is a nuclear weapons state. US policy-makers need to repeat that to themselves and let it sink in. It changes the calculus entirely. When one realizes that the North now has the power to reduce Osaka, Tokyo or Seoul to smoldering rubble with one flip of the switch, that has to be taken seriously. In practical terms, it means the so called “military option” is off the table, it’s no longer a viable option. The military option will lead to a nuclear exchange which – by the way- is not the outcome we want.

Third, we need examine the new threats to US national security that have arisen due to our 64 year-long failed policy, and respond accordingly.

What does that mean?

It means that Washington’s idiot policy has put us all at risk because the North is fine-tuning its ballistic missile technology so it can hit targets in the US with nuclear weapons. This didn’t have to happen, but it is happening and we need to deal with it. Fast.

So what do we do?

We do what every civilized country in the world does; we modify our policy, we turbo-charge our diplomatic efforts, we engage the North in constructive dialogue, we agree to provide generous incentives for the North to suspend or abandon its nuclear weapons programs, and we agree to provide the North with written security guarantees including a treaty that formally ends the war, explicitly states that the US will not launch another aggression against the North, and a strict time-frame for the withdrawal of all US occupation forces and weaponry on the Korean peninsula.

That’s what we do. That’s how we put an end to this unfortunate and entirely avoidable geopolitical fiasco.

We sign a treaty that requires both sides to gradually deescalate, meet certain clearly-articulated benchmarks, and peacefully resolve the long-festering situation through focused and results-oriented negotiation.

And what is the Trump administration doing?

The exact opposite. They’ve ratchetted up the incendiary rhetoric, put the troops on high alert, moved a carrier strike-group into Korean waters, and threatened to use the military option. After 64 years of failure, they’ve decided to double-down on the same policy.

Washington is incapable of learning from its mistakes. It keeps stepping on the same rake over and over again.


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